Photo of the front of Simplicity's steampunk dress sewing pattern.

One of Simplicity.com’s steampunk dress patterns. Hotlinked from Simplicity and linked to the pattern! Both models are wearing the same dress, though they’re obviously made with different fabrics.

I’ve been on a Victorian kick for a while now. In a way, it’s silly. I don’t actually want to write historical fiction. I don’t even want to write historical AU fiction. So this “Victorian phase” of mine has actually meant that I just spend a lot of time looking at Victorian fashion and interchangeably falling in love with and making fun of steampunk.

And although I can barely sew, I’m trying to make this pattern for Halloween!

The blame for this probably falls on Professor Pincushion’s YouTube Videos, which are so basic and so detailed that I was absolutely convinced that I could do it. (Seriously, these are amazing tutorials. Check them out!)

And so far? Well, I’m trying!

No pictures, sorry. I haven’t tried to take any yet. I wanted to wait until I had at least the bustier and the skirt. Then that’d make an outfit, even if it’d still be missing the coat.

So far I have the bustier done. It was hard. I’ve only sewn four things in my life. Going from “Hey, I can make an apron” to “Victorian bustier with boning” is… a jump.

And it was hard. I ended up making it twice. The first time, I tried using taffeta. But when you aren’t very skilled and you’re making something with a zillion curves, taffeta is not a very good choice. By the time I was 3/4 of the way done it was full of weird folds that wouldn’t come out and at least one accidental water stain from the iron. So I gave that up and redid it in broadcloth, which was much, much easier to deal with.

I’m now halfway through the skirt, and I’m just far enough along to be breaking into a panic. This skirt uses unbelievably huge amounts of fabric. The main part of the skirt? Yes, like most skirts, it’s just a tube of fabric. But it’s like a tube of fabric that I could fit four of me in. I haven’t gathered it at the waist yet, and I’m curious if it’ll wear correctly when I do that. I could have sewn everything together wrong, too. (Or altered the pattern wrong. I did try to take 4 inches off the height.)

And the pleated section at the bottom of the skirt? You have to iron the pleats in, then baste them down so they stay. I did that. This means I can attach it to the skirt now. But I can juuuuust barely hold the whole darn thing from side to side if I stretch my arms as far as they can go. That means that the bottom of the skirt is like a bell 4 feet across. I don’t even know if that’s correct or if, like, I missed a foot of pleats and this should be much smaller.

But these proportions may very well be right. It’s hard to tell. But I always panic in the middle of sewing projects. The moment I get close enough to a final product to kind of see how it will look, I start to rush until I reach a point where I can actually try the darn thing on. I want to see if it’s wearable! What if it isn’t? I want to see if it fits me! I want to see what it looks like! I want to see if I made a horrible mistake that rendered this a worthless pile of cloth!

Anyway, this has been burning into my free time lately.

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